President & CEO, Central Carolina Community Foundation; Former Chair, Richland County Library JoAnn Turnquist has held leadership positions with the Clorox Company,...
President and CEO, Auntie Karen Foundation
Producer, songwriter, author
As Karen Alexander approached her 40th birthday, she took a risk and “stepped out on faith,” mortgaging her house, spending her savings and investments to launch the Auntie Karen Foundation. Her love of arts inspired her to leave her position with Xerox Corp. to start the foundation, whose mission is to “empower, enlighten and educate through the arts.” Her creations include a young entrepreneur’s conference to foster economic empowerment, a concert series for young people and an online children’s series, carried on Knowitall.org. -- Auntie Karen’s Place. She is also the creator of 14 original characters and the author of two books.
Her advice for young people: “Her advice for young people: “Find somebody who is doing what you want to do. And even if you can’t see them in person, they probably have a video or a book or some talk. And use them as a guide or model. Because success leaves clues. And if somebody has done it before, there’s a good chance they have done it before and they have already gone through the hard knocks.”
About the Honoree
Karen Alexander is the CEO of the Columbia-based Auntie Karen Foundation. This global nonprofit’s mission is to “empower, enlighten and educate through the arts. Alexander established the foundation in 2001. Since then, she has used her experience and talent to build the impact of the foundation.
Her creations and events include Auntie Karen’s Young Entrepreneur’s Conference, Gordon’s Garden, Olivia the Octopus, Auntie Karen’s “Legends of” Concert Series, and Auntie Karen’s Black History Museum Celebration. It is Alexander’s love for the arts that inspired her to leave her corporate position with Xerox Corporation to offer something different. And the programs offered by the Auntie Karen Foundation do that. Her Annual Youth Entrepreneur’s Conference is held on the campus of Benedict College for ages 7 to 22 who come from across the region to learn how to foster economic empowerment.
Auntie Karen’s Foundation has partnered with SCETV and Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital to produce a 30-minute DVD that uses puppets and music to provide a simple way to present health, emergency preparedness, jazz music, and financial literacy.
Alexander says the work to build the foundation has been hard at times, but the product is fulfilling. “To see what a child gets out of this, the look on the face, is worth it all,” she says. Karen is the author of two books: “Olivia Gave A Hug Today” and “A Hug While I’m Away”.
About Women Vision SC
Women Vision SC is a program that focuses on issues affecting women throughout the state and the nation and a new generation of young people pursuing public service for their communities and the state at large. The program is produced and hosted by former SCETV president Linda O’Bryon.